TRA Meetup January 2015

February 1, 2015
The Readers' Avenue, a growing family of book lovers in Karachi, met on 31st January to discuss Philippa Gregory's "The White Queen". Suggested by Kiran Bashir, the book captivated most participants and nearly everyone in attendance had read the book. Some members had even progressed further in the series by reading its sequel The Red Queen and subsequent novels.

Everyone agreed that Philippa had masterly told the life of a queen in medieval England and Kiran, who has now become an authority on British History in the group, kept a running commentary of the intricacies of English royalty and history. The fate of two boys of Queen Elizabeth, Edward and Richard, were deeply discussed and Munir (who still needed to read the last 100 pages) ended up asking for the ending. It took three members to link each event right till the end to reveal the book ending which led to a new cycle of confusion since half the members had read sequels and they often had to backtrack to stay on The White Queen.

One debate between Kiran and Jamal/Wasio was the description of the English society. Jamal and Wasio argued that they didn't feel surroundings and couldn't connect with the description that historical novels usually provided. Kiran argued it was not necessary since the character, from whose perspective we followed the story, did not noticed surroundings. If the character is more concerned with people, we would be given that perspective and Elizabeth Woodville's character really was people-oriented character rather than surroundings. The comparison with Elif Shafak's The Architect's Apprentice came up, a historical fiction set in Turkey, which was discussed in previous year's meeting.

Some thoughts were shared over the theme, particularly the part where daughter Elizabeth retorts in anger to her mother that she wants the throne more than her children. All agreed that Queen Elizabeth had become blind with power but perspective remained divided. Kiran argued that daughter Elizabeth was still young and therefore felt that her mother did not care for them while Nuvaira concurred by adding that Queen Elizabeth left everything and brought her children to the Sanctuary for protection, what more proof would they want of her love? Wasio argued that she was way too much blind with power and didn't care for comforts of her daughter, which can be better understood if reader would put themselves in to daughter Elizabeth's shoes and see the Queen's actions. Where a compromise or dialogue could have made matters bearable, none was to be found.

For the relation between daughter Elizabeth and Richard, Munir said such relations would be felt weird and sick here but in some parts of the world this practice is common. In fact in some societies it is scandalous if you marry your cousin, which is a common practice here in Pakistani society. Both Nuvaira and Munir declared the series similar to Game of Thrones in terms of brutality, betrayals and head-cutting. Ambreen has found the series addictive so far and hasn't been able to put it away or start something different. Considering Munir's discomfort with fiction, she went on to suggest some cheesier titles for the next meetup and the reaction was entertaining, leaving everyone chortling.

TRA will now be setting up poll for February's book and a meetup will be planned for the upcoming Karachi Literature Festival.

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